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Federal government needs to provide additional transit security funding, APTA says


Last week’s terrorist attacks on the London transit system might not have been deadly as the July 7 attacks, but they have transit officials just as concerned.

"[The] attacks show the determination of terrorists," said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President William Millar in a prepared statement. "Our national leaders … need to show even more determination to protect America’s transit riders. Unfortunately, the federal government has not chosen to make public transportation security a priority."

Early last week, the Senate defeated legislation that would have provided $1.16 billion in transit security funding in FY2006. Instead, they voted to provide only $100 million for transit security in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. The House voted to provide $150 million.

A survey conducted by APTA last year determined that U.S. transit agencies need $6 billion to improve security. When the federal government raises the security alert to "orange," it costs transit systems $900,000 daily for the increased police presence, security checks, canine patrols and ridership alerts, according to APTA.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the government has provided $18.1 billion for the aviation industry but only $250 million for the public transit industry.

"Public transit has been a target around the world for 25 years," said Millar. "How many attacks will it take before Congress and the Department of Homeland Security decide that transit security is as important a priority as aviation security?"

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/25/2005